Top Ad unit 728 × 90

Where Has Nasim Pedrad Gone?: An 'SNL' Mystery

Hello, Lorne Michaels? I'd like to file a missing comedian report.

Three episodes into Saturday Night Live's new season, and two things are clear. The first is that this season is in no way the post-Sudeikis/Hader/Armisen disaster that many critics were gleefully predicting. This season is actually quite the opposite, as the elevated status of Taran Killam and Cecily Strong along with SNL's all-in method of using its new batch of castmembers has infused the show with a spark that it's been missing. SNL is alive.

The second thing? Nasim Pedrad is missing.

OK, so Pedrad isn't missing missing, but she's definitely not being used in a way that would convince anyone she's an integral part of SNL. Killam is the show's new leading man, and Strong is in line to become the Weekend Update veteran after Seth Meyers moves on, but Pedrad is barely even showing up in sketches. In last weekend's episode, her biggest appearance was in the Protective Son sketch. I'm pretty sure that the only reason she got that part was since it was a sequel to last season's Glice sketch, which Pedrad also had a role in. SNL didn't put her in the sketch because she had some killer joke to deliver.

Pedrad joined SNL in 2009 for the show's 35th season, becoming only the fifth member of the show to be born outside of North America. She and Jenny Slate made up that season's SNL rookie class. With Slate, Kristen Wiig and Abby Elliott gone, Pedrad now stands as the longest-tenured female current SNL castmember.

You'd think with that distinction and after that much time spent on the show, Pedrad would have become its go-to talent. She can do impressions, portray all kinds of ethnicities and has worked with SNL greats like Wiig and Jason Sudeikis. We shouldn't just be asking, "Where has Nasim Pedrad gone?," we should be asking, "Why isn't Nasim Pedrad an SNL star?"

Sketches you probably know Pedrad from

Over Pedrad's four-plus seasons on SNL, she's built up a few characters that fans of the show should be very familiar with.

Kim Kardashian
You can't make fun of the Kardashians without someone who can do a great Kim Kardashian impression. Thankfully for SNL, Pedrad can do that. Pedrad brings just the right mix of nasal and airheadiness to this impression. While the performers who portray the other Kardashian sisters have changed over the past few seasons, Pedrad's version of Kim has always been the rock of these parodies.

Ariana Huffington
I adore Pedrad's Ariana Huffington impression. Ever since she showed up on Weekend Update to talk about copying and pasting the news (cough, The Huffington Post's mode of operation), I've loved this bit. Pedrad doesn't just stop at mimicking Huffington's voice and speech patterns though. For whatever reasons, Pedrad's version of the media figure includes a barrage of flirty names and compliments — "Sexy boy." "Cutie pie." —directed at whoever is talking to her, whether it's Meyers during Weekend Update or Taran Killam's version of Piers Morgan.

Jasmine in The Real Housewives of Disney
When Lindsay Lohan hosted SNL two seasons ago, this was the highlight of the episode. Of course, that was probably because it wasn't actually live and Lohan didn't read the cue cards the entire time. Thanks to the viral nature of The Real Housewives of Disney, a lot of people saw Pedrad's Jasmine cry about sleeping with Iago.

Sketches Wikipedia thinks you know Pedrad from

If you check out Pedrad's Wikipedia page, you'll see that the hive mind of the Internet has decided that Pedrad is best known for a few recurring SNL characters.

Out of this bunch of recurring characters, Bedelia is the only one that I'd really consider to be a recurring character. Pedrad plays a girl who would rather hang out and talk up her parents than interact with kids of her own age. The Bedelia sketches have always been ho-hum enough to not garner any real attention. For a recurring character to capture people's attention, they either need to be crazy good (think Stefon) or crazy annoying (think Gilly). Bedelia is neither.

Lil' Blaster from the underground music festivals
Sure Lil' Blaster is a recurring character, but she's not even the main character in these sketches. C'mon, Wikipedia, how is this notable?

Pippa the Backup Dancer from What Up With That?
One, I didn't realize that Pedrad's backup dancer in What Up With That? had a name. Two, SNL has swapped characters in and out of this sketch as castmembers come and go. You only need three castmembers to pull off an installment of this sketch: Kenan Thompson as host DeAndre Cole, Sudeikis as tracksuit-wearing Vance and Bill Hader as Lindsey Buckingham. In fact, during the final installments of What Up With That?, Strong had replaced Pedrad as Pippa. Ouch.

Hu Jintao's translator
Pedrad killed it as Hu Jintao's translator who kept asking why American keeps "doing sex to me," but how could she actually build an SNL career around this sketch? Once again, she's barely even the star of this sketch.

Nancy from The Lawrence Welk Show
Backup role that's a pretty interchangeable part. With Wiig gone, we'll never see this one again.

So why hasn't Pedrad ever caught on?

Going through the sketches that Wikipedia (and thus the shared thinking of the Internet) considered to be the highlights of Pedrad's SNL career, it's clear that Pedrad never got a character that really clicked with audiences. Look at those recurring characters. Most of them rely on another castmember, and unfortunately for Pedrad, those castmembers have all moved on from SNL. She needed Sudeikis for the underground music festivals, Sudeikis, Hader and Armisen for What Up With That?, Hader for Hu Jintao and Wiig and Armisen for The Lawrence Welk Show.

In four-plus seasons, SNL and Pedrad have failed to land a character that defines her time there. At first, you might think, well, maybe everyone doesn't get a character that establishes them as an SNL castmember. Actually, I think everyone does — even the castmembers that never caught on.

Recurring characters aren't everything. In fact, SNL can often be at its best when its operating outside the safety net of its recurring characters. They do a great job connecting a castmember with the SNL audience though. If SNL keeps running the same person out there doing the same bit, we become familiar with them. Sure, you might hate that person or character, but you know who they are and what they do on SNL.

Pedrad has never gotten that chance. She doesn't have a role to fill on SNL. She isn't the physical humor expert or the impressionist or even the castmember who gets stuck being the game show host time after time. SNL's go-to use for Pedrad is when they need to fill a female secondary role. In this weekend's sketch where Killam's character harassed Bruce Willis' character over accidentally saying "chon" when he got stuck between saying "children" or "son," Pedrad's job was to sit in a chair and watch Killam and Willis force each other to the verge of breaking.

What's Pedrad's SNL future?

There was actually a chance that Pedrad was going to leave SNL during the show's recent offseason. She had signed onto SNL writer John Mulaney's pilot, and had that pilot gotten picked up, we would be including her name among those who made up the SNL exodus of 2013. When NBC passed on Mulaney, nothing changed, and Pedrad returned to SNL for her fifth season. Fox has recently shown interest in Mulaney, and while its namesake and Martin Short's involvement would remain, it's unclear if Pedrad would remain a part of the project.

It's easy to say that Pedrad could leave SNL after this season, but where would she go? She's appeared in a few movies and TV shows, but without the pop culture capital that comes with being an SNL breakout star, Pedrad doesn't exactly have studios clamoring to have her headline their projects.

Sadly, there doesn't seem to be a solution to this one. If someone hasn't found their niche on SNL after four seasons, it's unlikely they're suddenly going to rocket to late-night fame in their fifth season. Based on what we've seen of Season 39 so far, it's obvious that Pedrad isn't part of the plan to launch the next era of SNL. Pedrad may be the current longest-tenured female castmember, but she's destined to be lost among the bigger names the show has created around her.
Where Has Nasim Pedrad Gone?: An 'SNL' Mystery Reviewed by Bill Kuchman on 10/14/2013 Rating: 5

No comments:

© Popculturology. All rights reserved.

Contact Form


Email *

Message *

Powered by Blogger.